UFC Belem is not a great event, but it’s not a bad one either. If you look closely, this card might not have huge fights, but it has interesting matchups that could make for an entertaining night.
UFC Belem features a pivotal bout for Lyoto Machida, as he takes a step down in competition to face prospect Eryk Anders in hopes of snapping a three-fight skid. Apart from the main event, this card hosts the flyweight debut of recent UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko, and several fun contest in Marlon Vera vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade, Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Smith, Michel Prazeres vs. Desmond Green, and Tim Means vs. Sergio Moraes.
What: UFC Belem (UFC Fight Night 125)
Where: Arena Guilherme Paraense, Belem, Brazil
When: Saturday, Feb. 3. The one-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 7:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 2 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
Former UFC champ Lyoto Machida will be attempting to snap a three-fight losing streak in effort to save his MMA career.
Machida was once at the top of the game, puzzling opponents with his karate style, which was something MMA folks didn’t see often. However, over the years Machida became predictable and fighters were able to figure him out. On top of that, age and wear have played a factor. Machida can’t take a hit like he used to, he’s not as quick as he once was with his attacks, and he doesn’t have the same reflexes he used to use to get out of the way of his opponent’s strikes. Regardless, Machida still remains a technical striker with a good deal of experience, which makes him game in almost any fight he’s in.
Eryk Anders is young and fresh in the game. Anders hits hard, but sometimes leaves himself open, as he overcommits with his strikes. The undefeated fighter is a powerhouse at 185 pounds, and uses that strength well in clinches and when he implements his wrestling.
Logic tells me Anders will walk away with the win. He has the power to put away Machida and he likes to pressure, which has been key for Machida’s previous opponents. Yet, Anders is no Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero or Derek Brunson, at least for now. Anders isn’t too experienced and he could have issues facing someone as unique as Machida. I’m going against all logic here, but I have a feeling “The Dragon” will pick up a win.
This might be one of the biggest mismatches in recent memory.
Valentina Shevchenko could arguably be the UFC women’s bantamweight champ depending how you scored her fight with Amanda Nunes (it was a close one) in September. Shevchenko is extremely skilled on the feet and just as dangerous on the ground. “The Bullet” is as technical as they come, and in her natural weight class you can expect a much more improved and power fighter.
Priscila Cachoeira is fun to watch. She’s a wild brawler who swings hard and is not afraid of getting into a firefight. Cachoeira is tough, durable and strong for the weight class. She’s also undefeated and has a decent amount of experience.
I don’t see a path to victory here for Cachoeira. Shevchenko bests the Brazilian in every single area of the game, and by a lot. Cachoeira is predictable with her striking and leaves herself open to counters. This should be an easy win for Shevchenko.
Green is a skilled fighter who has a lot of tools to work with. Green is an accurate striker who can hold his own against solid standup fighters. Green is also a competent wrestler who can take down his opposition and keep control on top. Prazeres is one of the most powerful guys in the division (he’s basically a welterweight). The Brazilian has solid grappling skills and a good striking game with effective combinations.
This should be a fun bout. I think Green will likely try to keep his distance and use a lot of movement with quick, rangy attacks. Although I can see a path to victory for him, I think this is Prazeres’ fight to win. Prazeres has a big size and power advantage and he’s good at closing the distance. I see the Brazilian getting a decision win.
Hard fight to call.
We haven’t seen much of Marcelo Golm, as he has only had one UFC fight and he’s only six fights into his MMA career. But from what we’ve seen, the unbeaten Brazilian has decent power, good speed and striking technique, and a dangerous ground game. Safe to say Golm is pretty well-rounded.
But Timothy Johnson is also well-rounded and he’s proven that many times. Johnson can wrestle, fight in the clinch, and find plenty of success striking. Johnson is tough, durable, and can go three rounds (something we don’t know if Golm can do).
Johnson has some wear on him, he’s 32 years old and was stopped for the first time in his last bout against Junior Albini. Something tells me 25-year-old Golm will show Johnson why MMA is a young man’s game. Yet, I have a feeling experience could be a big factor here. Tough call, but I think Johnson gets the nod.
Marlon Vera is no longer just a jiu-jitsu guy. The Ecuadorian fighter has picked up plenty of skills over at Team Oyama. Vera can mix things up well in his striking, he can attack the legs, body and head with kicks, knees, elbows, punches, you name it. Vera is also good at fighting in the clinch.
Silva de Andrade is a very solid fighter. He possesses a decent jiu-jitsu background, but his biggest attribute remains in his striking. The Brazilian has a technical standup game with dangerous power.
This bout can potentially be Fight of the Night. Most of this fight will likely develop on the feet. Silva de Andrade has dangerous power, but Vera has proven to have a granite chin. I think Vera will be able to take anything that Silva de Andrade dishes out, while being the busier fighter on the feet. Silva de Andrade’s output tends to be very low, while Vera is usually very active.
Here’s a very competitive booking between solid middleweights. These two are very similar to each other, but there are just enough differences in their fighting styles to have me favor one over the other.
Santos is a dangerous striker with good technique, power and speed. The Brazilian also has decent takedowns and a decent ground game to go with it. Santos is also a very athletic fighter and he uses that athleticism well in his fights.
On the other hand, Anthony Smith is a tough, resilient fighter with a well-rounded skillset. Smith can be dangerous in his striking, but he’s not as comfortable on the feet as Santos.
I think Santos should be able to pick up a win here. I find Santos to be the faster and more technical striker. And on the ground, I think both these guys will cancel each other out.